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EU sees no talks on increasing fund for eastern members

  The European Union is not discussing for now any further increase of its emergency aid fund for members outside the euro zone which face balance of payment problems, the bloc’s executive arm said on Friday.

“There is no such discussion to the best of my knowledge,” European Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres told a daily news briefing.

The fund was increased to €25 billion from €12 billion last year as the global credit crunch hit some countries in the central and eastern Europe especially hard, prompting sell-offs in currencies and stocks. Hungary and Latvia have received aid from the fund.

Torres said EU and Romanian officials had already indicated Romania might want to tap the fund, although no official request had been made. The Commission also welcomed joint moves by the EU’s lending arm and the World Bank to help eastern Europe’s banks.

“The European Commission welcomes the announcement today of the European Investment Bank and World Bank of an action plan to support banks in central and eastern European countries,” a spokesman said.

Torres also said the EU received no official request from Hungary on arranging a package of €180 billion for eastern European economies, banks and firms to counter the impacts of the financial crisis.

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány told Bloomberg in an interview that a “European Stabilization and Integration Program” would include short-term financing for governments, coordinated restructuring for private debt, the recapitalization of banks and liquidity for companies in the region.

Help for central and eastern Europe is expected to feature high at an EU emergency summit on Sunday aimed to coordinate better responses of the bloc’s members to the financial crisis. (Reuters)